Music and storytelling are age-old allies and are often inspired by adventure. However, until recently it’s never crossed my mind to bring adventure, music and storytelling together… before you laugh (& stop reading), I have not taken up singing. Better (advised) than that, I teamed up with the brilliant The Whisky River Boat Band – they brought the music, I brought the storytelling and we had a bizarre two-day adventure!
The official gig was at The Big Tent festival in deepest Fife and our plan was to epitomise the green credential of the festival by getting there under our own steam. Setting out from Crammond, on the outskirts of Edinburgh and on the Firth of Forth, I could tell that the Scottish press who had turned out were quietly hoping and patiently waiting for one of us to capsize our kayaks. A few of us had good kayaking experience, but most of the band members were complete novices! To add to the hilarity, the kayaks were laden down with various string instruments to be played numerous times during the five hour crossing to Fife.
En route across the estuary, we stopped at a number of islands, including Inchcolm and I was amazed at the bird and wildlife. Puffins bobbed alongside our kayaks and flew low across the water and then a dozen seals took close interest in us, diving underneath and around us whilst we paddled north. Having driven across the Forth Road Bridge hundreds of times, it was staggering to see this very familiar part of the world from such a new perspective. Just a few hundred meters downstream from the magnificent rail bridge and we were in the wilderness, looking back at a unique view of Edinburgh.
Arriving in the small town of Aberdour, we were welcomed by the main hotel and invited to play a gig. This also gave the first opportunity to introduce some adventure storytelling and I started with a short story from when I was in Australia and woke to the sight of a large hairy spider in my tent. The band improvised suitably amusing backing music whilst I recounted the scary incident, which was met with laughs and great applause from the full audience.
The following morning the six of us had 26 miles to cover, whilst transporting some rather cumbersome instruments. A kindly yacht owner had sailed across with our bikes and most of the instruments and so we set about fastening banjos, guitars, violins and believe it or not a double bass to our bikes. We then wobbled off into Fife, trying to stick to the quieter roads but not always succeeding. I received some particularly surprised looks as I pedalled the ‘cargo’ bike along a dual carriageway with a double bass strapped to the front!
The grand arrival in the small town of Falkland drew a fantastic reaction, which is saying something at a music festival which prides itself on being alternative. And within minutes of being there, the instruments were unpacked with Jed and Jo on the stage leading a ceilidh dance.
All in all it was a superb adventure. The weather was stunning, the band was hilarious company and the whole journey was such a great way to see a familiar part of the world in a very different way. I spend so much of my time on fast challenges; it was great to go on a very slow adventure… and to be the honorary storytelling member of the Whisky River Boad Band for a few days!
Thanks to Jed Milroy, Jo Jeffries, Marty Camino, Toby Shippley and Gavin Taylor. To find out more about the Whisky River Boat Band
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